Going Nuclear for Fun and Profit

It seems the uber-macho pair of Bush and Blair (one a prep school cheerleader, the other nicknamed "Emily" by his schoolmates) are limbering up for more he-man action on the warfront -- this time against Iran. Although, as the Guardian reports, the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors have found that Iran is now in compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Bush and Blair strongarmed the IAEA board into overruling their own experts and referring Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council. Now we are hearing the exact same noises we heard before the invasion of Iraq: somber warnings that this is Iran's "last chance to avoid war," with the bloated thug that Bush has installed at the UN, John Bolton, belching that old standby at the Security Council: do what we want or you will lose your "revelance" -- and we'll "solve the problem" on our own.

The Guardian's Dan Plesch has much more on these alarming, if little noted developments -- which have been greatly exacerbated by a recent spate of terrorist bombings in Iran. These terrorist attacks followed hard upon Blair's public declaration that Iran has been providing Iraqi insurgents with sophisticated bombing technology that has killed several British soldiers. Naturally, Blair offered no evidence for this charge; the last time he tried this evidence thing, with the "sexed-up dossier" before the Iraq War, it just backfired on him. Much neater just to open your mouth and spew charges without any substance, the way Georgie does it. Of course, as Juan Cole, among others, points out, Blair's charge makes little sense: Why would Iran, which is closely aligned with the Shiite parties that dominate Iraq's new government, support Sunni rebels in their attempt to overthrow the Iranian-allied regime?

At any rate, someone has started a terrorist campaign inside Iran at the same time the Cheerleader and Emily have begun waggling their little swords again. (And according to the Telegraph of India, "top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that the US has plans to invade Iran before Bush’s term ends.") And once again, the question of nuclear proliferation is at the center of the storm. Certainly nuclear proliferation is an unmitigated evil in this world -- but that doesn't mean you can't make money from it.  Below, in another excerpt from the Empire Burlesque book, we see how the old warlord himself, Don Rumsfeld, make a pile of cash by dealing nuke-stuff to what is certainly one of the worst regimes on the face of the earth: North Korea. And he pocketed this tainted coin while he was supposedly leading the fight against, er, nuclear proliferation in North Korea. So take a gander at the instructive tale below, keeping in mind one burning (or glowing) question: Which Bushists are making money from Iran's nuclear program? Besides, of course, the usual masters of war who benefit from the increased "defense" spending when the macho men grease up for another fight.

Swing Blades: Big Don Rumsfeld Bats for Both Teams
February 28, 2003

It's a well-known fact – oft detailed in these pages – that the boys in the Bush Regime swing both ways. We speak, of course, of their proclivity – their apparently uncontrollable craving – for stuffing their trousers with loot from both sides of whatever war or military crisis is going at the moment.

That's why it came as no surprise to read last week that just before he joined the Regime's crusade against evildoers everywhere (especially rogue states that pursue the development of terrorist-ready weapons of mass destruction), Pentagon warlord Donald Rumsfeld was trousering the proceeds from a $200 million deal to send the latest nuclear technology – including plenty of terrorist-ready "dirty bomb" material – to the rogue state of North Korea, the Swiss paper Neue Zurcher Zeitung reports.

In 1998, Rumsfeld was citizen chairman of the Congressional Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, charged with reducing nuclear proliferation. Rumsfeld and the Republican-heavy commission came down hard on the deal Bill Clinton had brokered with North Korea to avert a war in 1994: Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for normalized relations with the United States, plus the construction of two non-weaponized nuclear plants to generate electricity. The plants were to be built by an international consortium of government-backed business interests called KEDO.

Rum deal, said Rummy: those nasty Northies would surely turn the peaceful nukes to nefarious ends. What's more, even the most innocuous nuclear plant generates mounds of radioactive waste that could be made into "dirty bombs" – hand-carried  weapons capable of killing thousands of people. The agreement was big bad juju that threatened the whole world, Rumsfeld declared.

Of course, that didn't prevent him from trying to profit from it. Even while he chairing commission meetings on the "dire threat" posed by the Korean program, Rumsfeld was junketing to Zurich for board meetings of the Swiss-based energy technology giant, ABB, where he was a top director. And what was ABB doing at the time? Why, negotiating that $200 million deal with North Korea to provide equipment and services for the KEDO nuclear reactors, of course!...

Yes, nuclear proliferation is ugly stuff – but you might as well squeeze a few dollars from it, right? A smart guy always plays the angles – and, as the hero-worshiping American media never stop telling us, Rumsfeld is one smart guy.

In fact, he's so smart that he's now playing dumb. A Pentagon spokesman says Rumsfeld "can't recall" discussing the Korean deal at ABB board meetings. And his erstwhile ABB corporate colleagues say that it's possible the subject never came up. Of course it didn't; going into the nuclear business with a Communist tyranny that very nearly launched a nuclear war against the West just four years before, in a deal that involved high-level negotiations with the governments of the United States, South Korea, Japan and the European Union – that's certainly the kind of thing that would be handled by a couple of junior executives in a branch office somewhere. Nothing for the bigwigs – especially hard-wired government players like Rumsfeld – to trouble their pretty heads about. A perfectly reasonable explanation.

And so Rumsfeld joins the roster of Bush Regime boardroom honchos who once trumpeted their "business savvy" as selling points for their right to national leadership but now claim to have been "hands-off" figureheads who had no idea what their companies were up to. Bush, in his sinkhole of insider trading and stockholder scamming at Harken; Cheney, making fat deals with Saddam Hussein (yes, after the Gulf War) and muddying up the corporate books at Halliburton; Army Secretary Thomas White, gaming the power grid and stealing millions for Enron in the manufactured California "energy crisis" – all of them went from mighty moguls to mere "front men" the instant their corruption was brought to light. None of it was their fault; nothing ever is.

Whatever happened to Bush's much-trumpeted "era of responsibility?" These guys are not only chiselers, hustlers, hypocrites and war profiteers – they're a bunch of gutless wonders as well. So you'll pardon us if we are just the tiniest bit cynical about the "moral arguments for war" and other such buckets of warm spit this gang is now forcing down the world's throat.

Postscript
And what became of that 1994 pact with North Korea? UN inspectors entered the country to make sure the weapons program was put on ice. Pyongyang signed a number of lucrative deals with various politically-connected Western firms, like ABB, to build the promised energy plants, while waiting for the normalization of relations with the United States to begin – a move which most observers thought would set North Korea on a course toward China-style "moderation" of its monolithic regime.

But normalization never came. Clinton, pressured by rightwing forces (such as Rumsfeld's commission) who opposed any truck whatsoever with godless commies, did his usual folding number, with much windy suspiration of forced breath – and no action. The KEDO companies pocketed Pyongyang's cash but dithered about the actual construction. Pyongyang – while not exactly a font of smiling cooperation itself – concluded that the pact was being deep-sixed. This suspicion was confirmed when Bush took office, calling Korean leader Kim Jong Il a "pygmy" and declaring the county part of the "Axis of Evil."

Pyongyang then accelerated its weapons program, kicked out the UN inspectors, and is now threatening to unleash a nuclear war if Bush, a la Iraq, makes a "pre-emptive strike."

A dicey situation, sure – but at least Don Rumsfeld made some money out of it.